Germany mulling requests from at least 14 firms for state aid

BERLIN, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Germany is examining requests from at least 14 companies for state aid that could see the government take on more stakes in privately held firms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy ministry document showed on Tuesday.

In March, Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz established an Economic Stabilisation Fund worth 600 billion euros ($706.80 billion) to help large corporations survive the coronavirus shock via loans and direct stakes.

Deputy Economy Minister Ulrich Nussbaum told Greens lawmaker Katharina Droege in a letter seen by Reuters that so far 14 firms had expressed a need for recapitalisation.

“For the vast majority of the companies, the audit has just started, and therefore no reliable statements can be made at the moment about the type of possible stabilization measures,” Nussbaum wrote.

An economy ministry spokesman declined to comment on the companies that had asked for state help, adding that the government could not disclose any names at this stage due to confidentiality rules.

In May, Germany decided to throw Lufthansa a 9 billion euro lifeline, agreeing a bailout which gives the government a 20% stake in the flagship carrier and veto powers in the event of a hostile takeover bid from abroad.

Germany’s central government has spent decades offloading stakes in companies. But it remains a large shareholder in former state monopolies such as Deutsche Post and Deutsche Telekom. Berlin also still has a 15% holding in Commerzbank , which it took on during the global financial crisis. ($1 = 0.8489 euros) (Reporting by Rene Wagner; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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